The blanked-off sides provide a great place to advertise your rock band, plumbing business, or geek service. With some lacy curtains for the back door windows, prying eyes will never penetrate your cargo hold. Unfortunately, there’s barely room inside for a full drum set and the fetal position is required for napping. On the plus side, the mid-twenties gas mileage is reasonable and driving off the lot should be doable for less than $20,000. That said, I’d recommend budgeting for the more expensive SS edition powered by a 250- or 260-horsepower turbo motor and underpinned by one of the last suspension systems tuned by GM’s illustrious Performance Division.
Don Sherman, Technical Editor
The price of the Chevy HHR Panel is right for a small business vehicle, but the cargo space is quite small – maybe just enough room for a floral delivery service or a small catering business. However, there are no exterior door handles for the rear doors, which means that anything stowed near the front of the cargo hold requires some bodily contortions to retrieve. Either climb inside through the back hatch and get on your hands and knees to get to the front of the cargo hold, or reach awkwardly around the front seat to unlatch the rear doors from the inside. Not exactly user-friendly…
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
The Chevy HHR Panel is perfect for your local neighborhood handy man. But if you need to haul anything more than a few toolboxes on a regular basis, the HHR probably won’t be big enough for you. Like Amy, I noticed the rear doors don’t have exterior handles; however, there are two buttons on the dash to the left of the steering wheel that allow you to pop each door open without having to crawl through the vehicle and all over your precious cargo. The HHR’s slick paneled sides provide ample room for whatever aftermarket logo your heart desires. So now your car can truly match your tattoo.
Keeping your cargo in one place is a challenge since the HHR’s hard plastic floor allows even the lightest of objects to slide around like they’re on ice. You certainly have to use a tie-down strap for heavy items, or you wouldn’t want to be in the front seats when the driver hits the brakes hard. The main benefit to the plastic floor is that once you arrive at your destination, you can easily wipe up whatever spilled on the way.
Mike Ofiara, Road Test Editor
2009 Chevrolet HHR Panel LT
Base Price (with destination) : $19,900
Price as tested: $21,825
4-speed automatic $1,000
Bright Chrome Appearance Package $925
22 / 30 / 25 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Size: Ecotec 2.2L 4-cyl.
Horsepower: 155 @ 6100 rpm
Torque: 150 @ 4800 rpm
16 inch chrome